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06/14/88 In Re Estate of Elinor E. Laas

June 14, 1988

IN RE ESTATE OF ELINOR E. LAAS, DECEASED (THE PEOPLE EX


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SECOND DIVISION

rel. Neil F. Hartigan, Attorney General of Illinois,

Respondent-Appellant, v.

Charles L. Martin et al., Petitioners-Appellees)

525 N.E.2d 1089, 171 Ill. App. 3d 916, 121 Ill. Dec. 782 1988.IL.929

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Henry A. Budzinski, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court. BILANDIC and SCARIANO, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE HARTMAN

This is the second appeal involving the Elinor E. Laas estate in this court. *fn1 Respondent, the Illinois Attorney General (Attorney General), appeals from an order granting petitions for executor's and attorney fees and expenses payable from decedent's estate. The issue raised in this appeal is whether the circuit court erred in granting the fee petitions without conducting an evidentiary hearing, sought by the State, to determine the reasonableness of the amounts requested.

The facts and circumstances are set forth in greater detail in our earlier opinion. It is sufficient to note for purposes of this appeal that on May 6, 1975, decedent Elinor Laas executed a will, later modified by the execution of a codicil on November 5, 1975. Decedent was adjudicated incompetent on January 28, 1976. She died June 16, 1983.

Charles L. Martin, who served as conservator of decedent's incompetent estate and was appointed executor of the estate upon decedent's death, on January 4, 1984, filed a complaint in the circuit court seeking construction of the will in order to establish a valid charitable remainder unitrust as prescribed by the will. The complaint named as defendants the beneficiaries under the will and codicil. The residuary legatee charities set forth in their answer a counterclaim against Martin as executor, Robert Laas, decedent's son and residuary lifetime income legatee, and the remaining legatees. The counterclaim requested construction of certain ambiguities in the will and further alleged that, if Martin's construction prevailed, the residuary gift to the charities set forth in the will would be lost. Martin and Laas successfully moved the court to dismiss the counterclaim and the charities appealed. This court affirmed the circuit court's order in In re Estate of Laas (1985), 134 Ill. App. 3d at 512.

Pursuant to the supplemental proceedings described above, Martin retained the services of the law firm of Schuyler, Roche and Zwirner (Schuyler) in February 1984, to act as co-counsel to attorney Walter Baron (Baron) during the course of the litigation. Baron had worked as Martin's attorney "since the inception of the estate."

The law firm of Mayer, Brown and Platt (Mayer) acted as counsel for the charities during the supplemental proceedings. Robert Laas, in turn, hired attorney James Teborek (Teborek) to represent his interests in the probate of decedent's estate, including the supplemental proceedings.

Teborek filed with the court, on January 9, 1987, a petition and time sheets itemizing expenses and fees generated by the supplemental proceedings and other tasks associated with the probate of the estate from January 1984 through ...


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